Third-Party Content

Jones v. Above The Law

Date: 

10/27/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

David Minkin; David Lat; Dead Horse Media, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Case Number: 

09-23256

Legal Counsel: 

Marc John Randazza

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

In October 2009, Donald Marvin Jones, a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law, sued David Lat and David Minkin, editor and publisher of the popular law gossip blog Above the Law (ATL), as well as ATL's parent company, Dead Horse Media. The complaint seeks $22 million in damages and an injunction "enjoining Abovethelaw to remove all articles and posts concerning Professor Jones."

The lawsuit revolves around a series of posts ATL published after Jones was arrested in 2007 on suspicion of trying to solicit sex from a prostitute. In these posts, ATL made fun of Jones—calling him "The Nutty Professor"—and posted a screenshot of the "incident report" for his arrest.  In one post, Lat published a photo/graphic mash-up collage forwarded to him by a reader that—according to the complaint—"depict[ed] Professor Jones as a drug dealer and a pimp or both."  The graphic featured one photograph of Jones superimposed on a $20 bill and another talking up a group of prostitutes. 

According to the National Law Journal, Jones pleaded not guilty to the solicitation charge, and the authorities later dismissed the charge and expunged it from Jones' record.

Jones' complaint alleges that ATL infringed his copyright by publishing the mash-up collage because a photo in it was "stolen from the UM website without permission." There is no allegation that Jones, as opposed to the University, owns the copyright in the photo or that the photo is registered with the copyright office. Jones also alleges that publication of the collage casts him in a false light by portraying him as a "dope dealer, pimp, and criminal."

Finally, the complaint alleges that ATL invaded his privacy and cast him in a false light by publishing the "incident report" despite dismissal and expungement of the solicitation charges.  Jones' claim that ATL made "private records public" is complicated by Fla. Stat. § 119.105, which provides that "[p]olice reports are public records except as otherwise made exempt or confidential," and says that, even in the case of exempt or confidential police reports, "[t]his section does not prohibit the publication of such information to the general public by any news media legally entitled to possess that information."

On November 4, 2009, after much criticism of the lawsuit in the legal blogosphere, Professor Jones voluntarily dismissed the action.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Yet Another Plaintiff Faceplant, Thanks to Section 230

I am constantly impressed with plaintiffs' hapless charges against the nearly impenetrable immunity that is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“Section 230”).  Time and time again, angry plaintiffs bring suit against websites because some unknown third party posted questionable, if not illegal, material.  And time and time again, those claims are stymied by Section 230, which grants the websites immunity from liability for those third-party postings.  Seriously

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Bennoti, Inc. v. Complaintsboard.com

Date: 

03/25/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

www.complaintsboard.com; Elizabeth Arden

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Case Number: 

1:08-cv-03118-JGK

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

In March 2008, Bennoti, Inc., an espresso machine marketer and merchandiser, sued consumer review site Complaints Board and its owner, Elizabeth Arden, for defamation of business reputation (trade libel) and unfair competition. In March 2009, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York discontinued the action with prejudice, noting that "[i]t [had] been reported to this Court that the plaintiff wishes to voluntarily dismiss this action."

According to the complaint, Complaints Board published six false or inflated consumer complaints about Bennoti. One complaint featured a photograph of a Bennoti espresso machine, to which Defendant added "a comic strip style balloon" featuring the words "Don't call us! We're busy cheating customers!"

The complaint also alleged that Complaints Board diverted "hits" away from Bennoti's website, and in doing so exposed consumers to defamatory remarks and "pirate[d] the millions of dollars Plaintiff spends to develop consumer awareness of its coffee products brand, and then diverts those consumers to Plaintiff's competitors."

The complaint asserted that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act did not shield Complaints Board because the website allegedly created fictional complaints and inserted "headings, report titles and messages for the reports."

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

-mw reviewing 10/9

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Aquino v. Electriciti

Date: 

02/18/1997

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Electriciti Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco

Case Number: 

984751

Legal Counsel: 

Noel Johnson and Roger R. Myers- Steinhart & Falconer

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Michael A. Aquino and Lilith Aquino, leaders of the "Temple of Set," sued Electriciti, Inc., an internet service provider, over statements made by one of its subscribers.  According to their complaint, an Electriciti subscriber going by the pseudonym "Curio" posted defamatory comments to Usenet groups falsely claiming that they participated in Satanic Ritual Abuse of children, molested children, and perpetrated fraud on the United States Government. Cmplt. ¶ 17. Also according to the complaint, the Aquinos contacted Electriciti about Curio's postings, but the company did nothing to stop them.

The Aquinos claimed that Electriciti negligently failed to "ensure that its services [were] not used to further hate campaigns and to assist a mentally unstable individual to continue his or her vendetta against other persons using the internet."  They also claimed that Electriciti  actively assisted Curio in making the objectionable postings, and that Curio was "an agent and/or employee of [Electriciti] such that [his/her] actions are attributable to [Electriciti]."

Electriciti moved to dismiss the complaint, and the court held that the case was preempted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

CMLP Notes: 

Stylianou, oct/09

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Sorry Jack Thompson, Your Comprehension of Section 230 Is in Another Castle!

On this blog, I typically write about frivolous or ill-considered lawsuits. In the long, long ago, before I came to law school, I wrote about video games.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine v. Wikimedia

Date: 

08/19/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.; John or Jane Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York

Case Number: 

111917-2009

Publication Medium: 

Wiki

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) and its co-founders Robert M. Goldman and Ronald M. Klatz sued Wikimedia Foundation and ten anonymous posters for defamation in New York state court over comments appearing on A4M's Wikipedia page. In their complaint, plaintiffs allege that anonymous posters published statements disparaging their scientific qualifications and medical credentials and implying that they were implicated in illegal trafficking of human growth hormones and anabolic steriods. The complaint purports to include Wikimedia "solely as a nominal Defendant," and A4M seeks to identify the anonymous posters through discovery.

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Canadian Court Rejects Defamation Liability for Hyperlinks: Crookes v. Newton

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Sturm v. eBay

Date: 

02/14/2006

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

eBay, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

California Superior Court, Santa Clara county

Case Number: 

1-06-CV-057926

Legal Counsel: 

Melina K. Patterson - Cooley Godward LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)
Material Removed

Description: 

Kiel J. Sturm sued eBay, Inc. for defamation after it refused to remove a comment critical of him left by a buyer, even after he obtained a court order ruling that the comment was defamatory.

According to articles in the San Jose Mercury News and Yahoo! Tech, Sturm initially sued the person responsible for the comment in small claims court.  After settling the matter, both parties sent a letter to eBay requesting that the comment be removed.  eBay responded that it required a court order stating that the comment was defamatory, so Sturm re-sued the buyer to get such an order.  When he presented it to eBay, however, eBay refused once again to remove the offending comment, stating that the court order contained "too many ambiguities."

At that point, Sturm sued eBay directly.  According to Eric Goldman at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog, the court dismissed the case on July 27, 2006, finding that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("Section 230") provided eBay with immunity from liability for the buyer's comments.

According to the Mercury News article, eBay eventually removed the offending comment.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Cannot find the opinion anywhere; links on Eric Goldman's blog post are dead, and Patterson (eBay's lawyer) is no longer with Cooley (LB 08/07/2009)

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Rosenberg v. Spicy Bear Media

Date: 

05/15/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Spicy Bear Media LLC; Kyle J. Redinger; John Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Case Number: 

3:09-CV-37

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Material Removed
Settled (total)

Description: 

Rosenberg, a professional photographer, sued the operator of a Charlottesville, VA community blog (now defunct) for copyright infringement, claiming it failed to remove images of his photograph that were posted (twice) to its site by unknown third parties.  The complaint also included a claims for removal or alteration of copyright management information, because the images on cvillain.com were stripped of identifying material attached to the original picture (presumably the copyright symbol, name, and year that appear when mousing over the original photo).

On July 6, 2009, the parties agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice because they had reached a settlement in the amount of $750.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

08/06/2009 - LB editing

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Frontera v. Embden

Date: 

12/15/2003

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Frederick Embden and others

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

New York Supreme Court, Dutchess County

Case Number: 

002854/2003

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$0.00

Legal Counsel: 

Caltagirone & Coleman

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

Details on this lawsuit are sparse, but it seems that a group of politically active people in Newburgh, N.Y. sued the creator and webmaster of the former forum section of the city's former official website, http://www.newburgh-ny.com (now redesigned and relocated).  Although the site was labelled and promoted as the city's official site, it was owned and maintainted by Frederick R. Embden.

The suit apparently stemmed from comments posted in the site's forums that accused the plaintiffs of various improprieties. The lawsuit appears to be part of long, ongoing dispute between factions of the city's civic community. A taste of vitriol and some (hyperbolic) discussion of the lawsuit in available in this discussion thread on the voy.com bulletin board site.

Trial was originally scheduled for September 2008, then postponed to August 2009.  But the parties reached a settlement on Aug. 28, 2009, when the trial was set to begin.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Devenyns v. Albero

Date: 

07/24/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joseph Albero

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Wicomico County

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

A Maryland prison director filed a defamation lawsuit against Maryland political blogger Joseph Albero for allowing an allegedly defamatory user comment to appear on his website. Douglas Devenyns claims an anonymous commenter on Albero's Salisbury News blog falsely stated he was a "sexual predator" who shortened female inmates sentences in exchange for sex, according to The Daily Times.

According to Delmarva Dealings, the suit seeks $150,000 in damages. The complaint tries to get around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by arguing that Albero is liable for the comment because he determines which comments to publish and whether he will edit them first.

Update:

9/10/2009 - Albero filed a motion to dismiss under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  He argues that the act protects third parties even if they perform some editorial functions.  

11/30/2009 - The court granted Albero's motion for summary judgment.

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

likely section 230 case

CMF - 8/5/09

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Keith Goodridge Construction v. WYBS, Inc.

Date: 

08/18/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

WYBS, Inc., d/b/a/ Merchantcircle; John Doe; Susan and Anthony Gatchell

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal
State

Court Name: 

Linn County Circuit Court; United States District Court, D. Oregon.

Case Number: 

6:08CV06313 (District Court)

Legal Counsel: 

Bruce L. Campbell, Elisa J. Dozono - Miller Nash LLP (for Defendant WYBS, Inc.)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

In August 2008, Keith Goodridge sued WYBS, Inc., owner of the site www.merchantcircle.com, and a John Doe using the screen name "Attorney" over allegedly defamatory comments posted to the site.  According to the complaint, a posting from June 4, 2008 falsely claimed that an outdoor arena Keith Goodridge Construction (KGC) had built collapsed, killing a teenager. 

WYBS removed the case to federal court and filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that it was immune from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("Section 230"). In February 2009, Goodridge amended his complaint to add factual allegations regarding a second allegedly defamatory posting on merchantcircle.com, from November 21, 2008.  He also attempted to plead around Section 23 by claiming that WYBS itself republished both allegedly defamatory statements in multiple locations on its site.  Susan and Anthony Gatchell were added as defendants in lieu of the John Doe "Attorney."

WYBS filed a motion to dismiss this amended complaint, claiming that the reposting alleged by Goodridge did not appear on WYBS's site, but rather on completely independent third-party sites, such as Craigslist.org.  It also reasserted its claim of immunity under Section 230.

On February 24, 2009, Goodridge filed a motion to remand to state court, claiming that the addition of  Susan and Anthony Gatchell — both residents of Oregon like Goodridge — eliminated federal jurisdiction. In June 2009, a magistrate judge issued his recommendation that the case be remanded to state court and that Goodridge be allowed to file a second amended complaint. 

On July 14, 2009, the federal district court adopted the findings and recommendation of the magistrate and remanded the case to the Linn County Circuit Court.

Update:

May 12, 2010 -  A reader submitted the following update via email: "The Linn County Court granted an anti-SLAPP motion in favor of WYBS against Plaintiffs in the amount of $22,242, on the ground that there was no objectively reasonable basis for the claim." 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

07/23/2009 - LB editing

docket on WL  6:08CV06313

 

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Moore v. Allen

Date: 

06/26/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Donald W.R. Allen; John Hoff; John Does 1-5

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Hennepin Civil Court, Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota

Case Number: 

No. 27-CV-09-17778

Legal Counsel: 

Donald Allen (pro se); Paul Godfread (for defendant Hoff)

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Directed Verdict/Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict (total)

Description: 

Former University of Minnesota employee Jerry Moore filed a lawsuit in June 2009 against blogger John Hoff, online commenter Don Allen, and five anonymous commenters who Moore says published intentionally defamatory content in order to get him fired. The lawsuit was filed in Minnesota state court, according to the blog Prattles.

On his blog, The Adventures of Johnny Northside, Hoff criticized the university's hiring of Moore and wrote about a lawsuit Moore was involved in. According to the Minnesota Independent, the complaint alleges that Hoff is "disentitled" to First Amendment protections because of his allegedly biased writing. The complaint also alleges Hoff allowed his blog's comments section to become a "defamation zone," according to Prattles.

According to the University of Minnesota Daily student newspaper, Moore’s employment with the university ended June 22, less than two months after he began work on a temporary basis at the school's Urban Research and Outreach Center.

Updates:

On March 7, 2011, a jury trial commenced.

On March 11, 2011, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Moore. The jury found that the statement, "Repeated and specific evidence in Hennepin County District Court shows that Jerry Moore was involved with a high-profile fraudulent mortgage at 1564 Hillside Ave. N.," was true. The jury nevertheless ruled in favor of Moore on his claims for intentional interference with an employment contract and intentional interference with prospective employment advantage. The jury awarded Moore $35,000 for the loss of benefits of the contract, and $25,000 for emotional distress or actual harm to reputation.

On March 23, 2011, the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists filed an amicus brief with respect to Hoff's post-trial motions. The brief stated that Minnesota courts, and both federal and state courts, have rejected attempts by plaintiffs to disguise defamation claims under other causes of action. The brief also argued that Minnesota courts have held that providing truthful information cannot provide the basis for an action for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage.

On April 1, 2011, Hoff filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law stating that the factual findings of the jury did not support a verdict in favor of Moore, and asking the court to enter judgment in favor of Hoff on all counts. In the alternative, Hoff sought a new trial. The memorandum in support of the motion stated that tortious interference claims could not be based on true statements, and that the First Amendment barred Hoff's claims for tortious interference. In the alternative, the motion stated that Hoff was entitled to a new trial because the jury was improperly swayed by emotion, the jury instructions contained a plain error, and the verdict was contrary to law and unsupported by evidence.

On May 25, 2011, Moore filed an opposition to Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law.

On May 26, 2011, Hoff filed a reply to Moore's opposition.

On August 22, 2011, the district court denied Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law in its entirety. The court held that the jury's findings on tortious interference were supported by the record developed during the jury trial, and that the jury's findings on the special verdict form could be reconciled if the jury had determined that Hoff's conduct taken as a whole (and not his true speech) constituted tortious interference. The district court also denied Hoff's motion for a new trial.

On October 26, 2011, Hoff filed a notice of appeal in the district court.

On January 30, 2012, Hoff filed a brief in support of his appeal in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, appealing the district court's denial of Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. The brief stated that Minnesota law does not permit liability for tortious interference to attach to true statements; that the record did not contain evidence to support the jury's findings; and that the trial court had failed to consider the requirements of the First Amendment in its order and memorandum denying Hoff's motion for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial.

On February 2, 2012, the Minnesota Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics & Law filed an amicus brief in support of Hoff.

On March 22, 2012, Moore filed his Appellee Brief, arguing that Hoff had failed to correctly appeal the instructions to the jury at the trial court.

On April 10, 2012, Hoff filed a Reply Brief.

On May 23, 2012, the parties argued before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Update:

On August 20, 2012, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hoff, reversing the jury's verdict and remanding the case. The Court held that a true statement cannot support a claim for tortious interference with contract or prospective business relationships, and that when protected speech is inextricably intertwined with allegedly tortious conduct, there can be no liability as a matter of law.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

AVM- no images on state docket, nothing on WL as of 7/2/09

CMF - nothing on westlw yet; state site docket info below 7/22/09

http://pa.courts.state.mn.us/ - docket here; choose  Hennepin civil from drop down menu and search case number

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Another One Bites the Dust: Roommates as a Hail Mary for Frivolous Lawsuits

Yet another lawsuit that probably should never have been brought has been dismissed due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Twitter, WordPress, Ning, and GoDaddy Dragged Into Defamation Lawsuit Over Condo Building

Daniel Neiditch, President of the Board for Atelier Condos on West 42nd Street in New York City, filed a lawsuit last Wednesday against two condo owners and three former employees, alleging that they published defamatory statements on various websites and blogs (defunct), as well as on Twitter (also defunct).

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

British Court Clears Google of 'Defamatory' Search Results, But It Still Sucks to be a Web Host in Britain

As nearly every American lawyer knows, London is the libel capital of the world.  There are a bunch of reasons why, of course: defendants have the burden of proving the truth of their statements; neither negligence nor actual malice is required for liability; there's no distinction between public and private figures; etc.  But regardless of the reasons, Great Britain is the place to sue for defamation.  Heck, it's so b

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Gorman v. Meale

Date: 

07/07/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jennifer Meale; Xcentric Ventures, LLC

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

McHenry County Circuit Court

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Attorneys at Favaro & Gorman Ltd. filed a lawsuit against Jennifer Meale and Xcentric Ventures, LLC over allegedly defamatory posts made anonymously by Meale on Ripoff Report, a consumer review website.  It is not clear how the law determined that Meale was responsible for the anonymous reports.

According to the Northwest Herald, Xcentric was named as a defendant because it failed to remove the allegedly defamatory postings despite repeated requests from Favaro & Gorman.  Xcentric will likely raise section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as a defense.

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

07/13/2009 - LB editing; no court documents available on Illinois state court website; no docket on westlaw; no other news coverage that I can find

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Town of Secaucus v. NJ.com

Date: 

09/01/2008

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

NJ.com

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Hudson County Superior Court (New Jersey)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed

Description: 

According to the Hudson Reporter, in September 2008 the Town of Secaucus sought a subpoena from a Hudson County Superior Court judge to force NJ.com, a website run by a group of New Jersey newspapers, to disclose the identities of several anonymous posters going by 2Advil, AllEyzOnYou, and Truth4Tel. These individuals allegedly posted defamatory comments related to a political dispute within the town council.  The CMLP has not been able to determine whether the subpoena issued, whether NJ.com complied, or whether a lawsuit was ultimately filed. 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

RPK

7/7/09 - no information on whether a lawsuit ever came out of this (CMF)

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

Google News

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Blixseth v. Bresnan Communications

Date: 

02/13/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Bresnan Communications; Does 1-100

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Case Number: 

1:09-cv-10219

Legal Counsel: 

John D. Seiver - Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed
Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

On February 13, 2009, Tim Blixseth, a real estate developer and shareholder in the bankrupt Montana ski resort Yellowstone Club, filed a complaint in Massachusets federal court against Bresnan Communications, a New York-based ISP, and 100 unnamed defendants.  The complaint sought a declaratory judgment that Blixseth was entitled to obtain from Bresnan Communications the identity of one of its subscribers, an anonymous commenter to the NewWest.net website going by the moniker "Sharkbait."

Blixseth alleged that Sharkbait made a death threat against him in the comments section to an NewWest article on the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy. Counsel for Blixseth contacted NewWest shortly after the alleged death threat was posted, and the site's publisher agreed to remove the comment and disclose Sharkbait's IP address.

The same day the complaint was filed, Blixseth served a subpoena on Bresnan Communications requesting that it provide identifying information for Sharkbait's IP address.  Counsel for Bresnan Communications objected to the subpoena, citing federal law prohibiting cable operators from divulging customer information without a court order and notice to the subscriber.

Blixseth then filed an emergency motion seeking an order requiring Bresnan Communications to turn over the requested information and a motion to seal.  The district court subsequently denied both motions.  There has been no activity on the docket since mid-February 2009.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Source: NewWest.net

 

KAI 6/5/09

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Subject Area: 

Ninth Circuit Amends Barnes v. Yahoo! Decision, Addresses Concerns Raised by Yahoo! and Amici

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

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